The Project Manager Blog

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How To Assess Project Risk

Project risk identification is one of the first things you will do as you put together your project documentation. It’s the exercise that helps you identify all the things that could potentially impact your project as you move forward with completing the work. As a project manager, you’ll be able to identify lots of the risks yourself based on your past experience and what you know, but you’ll need the help of your team to make sure that you have everything covered. After identifying your project risks you’ll end up with one long list of potential problems. That can be quite worryin...
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10 Phrases To Avoid In Project Communications

“Let’s touch base to talk about synergies before these items get placed on the backburner,” someone said to me on the phone the other day. It was (can you guess?) a salesperson, and I was surprised at how much of what he said sounded like corporation-speak. I have to confess to playing buzzword bingo in meetings before now (Google it – it’s essentially where you listen out for corporate jargon in meetings and the first person to complete their bingo card wins) but I don’t think that this sort of language has much, if any, place in project communications. Why? Because project ...
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7 Steps For Successful Project Handovers

The project isn’t over when the last deliverable is completed. In fact, you’ve still got quite a bit of work to do to make sure that your project is closed down effectively and that you are able to move away from it and on to your next project without worrying. One of the main things to plan towards the end of your project is the handover to the operational team. Unless you and the project team are going to be responsible for the project forever and ever (which is unlikely) you’ll want to make sure that the project’s customers and users can support themselves so they don’t keep co...
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A Quick Guide For Project Kickoff

I was out for dinner with some friends and the conversation turned to work. It always does, but I do like to hear about what they are doing as the 6 of us around the table were all project managers. That’s just coincidence – although I do know a lot of project managers! One of the group was a new project manager. Clair had a long career as a veterinary surgeon and while she still loves animals, she had to give up her practice due to health reasons. Fortunately for her, she was able to get a job for an animal charity managing projects. But she hasn’t been doing it for very long and we ...
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7 Presentation Tips

Last month I sat through one of those presentations where you wish the ground would open up and swallow the speaker. It was dull. There were spelling mistakes on the slides. He lost his train of thought and spent a few minutes going through his note cards trying to work out what point he was in the middle of making. Honestly, for his sake I was glad when it was over, although I can’t now remember what the presentation was even about. I was so distracted by his performance that the message of the presentation didn’t sink in at all. You will have to do presentations as part of your work a...
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7 HR Concerns for Project Managers

Human Resources (HR) is a fancy word for people, and project resources are mainly made up of the project team (and the budget – but that’s a different article!). When you are dealing with people, all manner of things can happen that are largely outside of your control. However, the project manager’s role is to support the project team and this requires a certain awareness of HR issues that could affect your team members over the life cycle of the project. Here are 7 HR concerns to be aware of, and what you can do about them. 1. Jury Service In many countries, individuals on the elec...
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7 Critical Things For Your Risk Register

When I was doing a peer review on one of my project team’s project the other day I noticed that she hadn’t used the standard risk register template and there were a couple of important things missing from the log she had created. We sat down and talked about the different things that should be included in a risk register and I realized that she had left out some items I consider important because she didn’t know that there was a template that she could use so she had made one herself. Aside from the fact that templates are a great way to standardize project management processes and ta...
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6 Tips For Perfect Project Dashboards

If you struggle to pull together project reports, taking information from your schedule, risk log, team time sheets and other sources, then you need to look at project dashboards. A dashboard is a central place that gives you a graphical view of your project status. It’s a collection of graphs, tables and charts that shows an up-to-date view of project progress, normally in real-time. This is so important for a project manager, as you really do need to know what’s going on all the time, and the dashboard can give you early visibility of problems. You can then investigate further and pre...
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5 Steps to Quality Management

Quality is such a subjective thing. I bought a fruit cake the other day in a box labelled ‘top quality’ but frankly it was dry and not very nice, even with butter on. Who decided that it was a quality cake? It certainly didn’t meet my quality criteria but someone somewhere thought that it was OK to label the cake as ‘top quality’. Quality on projects is just as subjective. What matters to someone won’t matter to someone else, so the definition of quality changes from project to project and also from sponsor to sponsor. If your project sponsor changes halfway through a project be...
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6 Reasons Why You Need A Project Plan

You do have a project plan, don’t you? Most project managers would look at me with horror if I asked them if they had a plan, but many people don’t stop to think about why we bother with project planning. After all, it’s just something that project managers do, isn’t it? It is expected that the project manager will wave a piece of paper at you with a Gantt chart and some dates on, because that’s what project managers are like. But have you ever really thought about the purposes of the project plan? It isn’t just something that project managers produce for fun! It’s an integral...
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